The NBA season is officially underway. The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Dallas Mavericks last night in a battle of ailing teams. Kobe Bryant was listed as a game time decision with a foot strain, and it was not clear whether he would play at all in the opener. Bryant did make his debut last night, but it was enough to keep the Lakers from losing.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Bryant knew he was going to be able to play. He was asked if he had received medical clearance to play and responded with a laugh.
"I never get clearance," Bryant said. "Either I'm ready to go or I'm not ready to go.
"They've done a great job treating me and getting me ready. We've been together for so long. They trust my judgment."Bryant scored 22 points in the Lakers defeat, but he did not attempt a single free throw. He was not driving to the basket as much as he likely would have if he was 100%. To make matters worse, another star returning from injury, Dwight Howard, fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers lost 99-91 to the Mavericks, a team that is injury-plagued as well. The Mavericks were without their superstar Dirk Nowitzki and will be for the next few weeks. Nowitzki underwent knee surgery and will miss the first part of the season.
Bryant, after starting the opener, is expected to continue playing. The Lakers play the Trail Blazers in Portland tonight.